The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Tuesday blocked 22 YouTube channels, including 18 Indians for spreading disinformation related to the country's national security, foreign relations and public order. The ministry also blocked three Twitter accounts, one Facebook account and one new website.
For first time 18 Indian YouTube news channels were blocked under IT Rules, 2021.
In a statement, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting said, "Utilizing the emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021, has issued orders on 04.04.2022 for blocking of twenty-two (22) YouTube based news channels, three (3) Twitter accounts, one (1) Facebook account, and one (1) news website."
"The blocked YouTube channels had a cumulative viewership of over 260 crore, and were used to spread fake news, and coordinated disinformation over social media on subjects sensitive from the perspective of national security, India's foreign relations, and public order," the ministry said.
This is the first time action has been taken against the Indian YouTube based news publishers since the notification of the IT Rules, 2021 in February last year.
Through the recent blocking order, 18 Indian and four (4) Pakistan-based YouTube news channels have been blocked.
Analysis of contents shows that multiple YouTube channels were used to post fake news on various subjects such as the Indian Armed Forces, Jammu and Kashmir, etc.
"The content ordered to be blocked also included certain anti-India content posted from multiple social media accounts operated in a coordinated manner from Pakistan," it said.
The ministry claimed that it was observed that a significant amount of false content published by the these Indian YouTube based channels related to the ongoing situation in Ukraine, and aimed at jeopardising India's foreign relations with other countries.
"The blocked Indian YouTube channels were using templates and logos of certain TV news channels, including images of their news anchors to mislead the viewers to believe that the news was authentic," the ministry said.
With this action, since December 2021, the Ministry has issued directions for blocking 78 YouTube based news channels and several other social media accounts on grounds related to national security, sovereignty and integrity of India, public order, etc.
"The Government of India remains committed towards ensuring an authentic, trustworthy, and safe online news media environment, and thwarting any attempts at undermining India's sovereignty and integrity, national security, foreign relations, and public order," the ministry added.